I have 3 step-daughters, 6, 8 and 13. They are well behaved kids. They live with their Mom. The 6 and 13 year old come to our home every other Saturday. The 8 year old has never left her mother’s side. They are supposed to be with us for the entire weekend, but the 6 and 13 year old will not stay over. They have been part of my life for 3 ½ years and still act shy around me. They, like their mom, are complete introverts. They all live with the mom’s parents. They are home schooled. The 13 year old has one friend and the 6 and 8 year old do not have any friends. I find it very sad. There mom is a very nice person. She is very loving towards the girls, but she is full of fear. Unfortunately, that gets passed on to her kids. I am very concerned. The 13 year old talks mostly baby talk. She can hardly stand to be away from her mom. She has actually carried her mom’s sweater around with her, while she’s with us. These kids aren’t being socialized or prepared for life outside of their home. When we have them, we try to get them to engage with others, but they just stand there. Their dad has tried to talk with their mom about this, but never gets anywhere. Should I be concerned? Is there anything I/we can do?
I have home-schooled neighbor kids and they are so afraid of the outside world that they had to leave a Halloween party at their church because people were doing face painting. I think it is often part of the mindset that home schools, that the outside world is not safe. I hope the mom can be made to see that she is making her kids so fearful, but unless your husband can nicely do this and get through to her (either himself or maybe through her parents or a friend) I don't think there is a lot you can do.
Perhaps your husband can begin to get involved with mom to discuss things the kids can do outside of the home. Maybe the 13 year old likes art, dance, swimming? Perhaps looking at a particular interest of each child and suggesting an out of the home activity for each one and offering to pay for it, helping to get them there, etc. would be helpful.
And when you and your husband are with the kids, go out. Take them places. Invite kids over to your house (if you have any friends that have kids around their age) or neighborhood kids you can invite over. I'd make an effort to have people around them and be very very patient to help them gain comfort talking to others and learning the ins and outs of public manners (eye contact, conversation, etc.).
Just saw this post I had a few friends when I was younger that were scared of the world like this too. It really is a sad thing. You say you and your husband are suppose to have them all weekend but they won't stay. You should try to make things fun for them through things they like and get them to not notice the time. When they wear out they won't care where they are they will sleep and make it through the night. I know this will be hard but they need to realize that they can be safe away from mom. My two kids cried the first few times they stayed over but we didn't allow them to go home. They wore themselves out and finally would sleep.
Another thing is try your hardest to show then the world. My children had never caught fire flies or really played outside until they started to stay over. They were hestitatant at first about all things outdoor and getting dirty. They have started to love the outdoors though. Your three daughters need to feel safe and get shown how to experience life without living in fear. They need friends. Your husband should try to voice all concerns to their mother, and though he may not get through dont give up on it. His children depend on it.
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